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Castle Lake

Location Name: 
Castle Lake
Castle Lake
Date and time of observation: 
Fri, 12/02/2022 - 2:30pm
Observation made by: 

Location Map

96067 Mount Shasta , CA
United States
41° 13' 48.8244" N, 122° 22' 34.5684" W
California US

Snowpack Observations


Another cold and mostly clear day. Lower elevation wind and snow transport was minimal. Upper elevation wind was stronger. Today's objective was to have a look at the Castle Lake backcountry ski area for general snow coverage and signs of avalanche instability, while on the way to the Castle weather station. The Castle Lake weather station has not been reporting snow depth. We are working on the solution. Currently, ~80 cm / 31 in of snow is on the ground at the weather station location. At the snow pit location, ~65 cm / 25 in.

Coverage in the Castle basin was surprisingly better than expected. Skiing is possible, but due to the soft, low density nature of the new snow, many earthly obstacles are easy to hit and just below the snow surface. Low angle skiing near and below treeline is best, or protected gullies above treeline. The lake is not frozen, so all ski access must skirt the edge. The road is plowed, rocked and packed snow/ice. 

A pit dug on a NW facing slope below treeline revealed two layers of snow about 30 cm / 12 in thick, separated by a 1 cm / .25 in melt-freeze crust. Slab properties are poor, and the new snow is settling out, indicated by settlement cones around a few trees. Overall, the cold temps and short days are keeping snow quality good in protected areas near and below treeline. Weak sugary snow was observed below the melt freeze crust. Extended column tests resulted in sudden collapse, easy failures, but would not propagate across the column due to poor slab properties. No signs of avalanche danger was observed.

  • Observation Location: Castle Lake area
  • Elevation: 5,500 feet
  • Date: 20221202
  • Time: 1430
  • Observer: N Meyers
  • Sky Conditions: Few (FEW) 
  • Current Precipitation: None
  • Air Temperature: 23 °F
  • Surface Penetration: Ski penetration (PS) = 5 in (12 cm), boot penetration (PF) = 10 in (25 cm)
  • Total Snow Depth (HS): ~25 in (65 cm)
  • 24-hour New Snow Depth (HN24): 0
  • 24-hour New Snow Water Equivalent (HN24W): 0
  • Wind Direction: Variable
  • Wind Speed:  Light (L), 1-16 mi/hr, twigs in motion 
  • Column & Block Tests:
    • Slope Angle & Aspect 20º, NW
    • ECTN18 ↓  13 in (35 cm)

    • CT11 | SC ↓ 13 in (35 cm)


  • Castle Lake with Middle Peak in the background
  • Below treeline coverage
  • Below treeline coverage
  • Little settlement cones around some trees
  • Middle Peak
  • Right Peak
  • Castle Basin overlook
  • Small surface hoar on northwesterly facing ridgelines
  • Castle Lake weather station
  • 65 cm at weather station location
  • Skin track along ridge to weather station with Castle Basin in background
  • Pit schematic

Weather Observations



Cloud Cover: 
25% of the sky covered by clouds
Blowing Snow: 
Accumulation rate: 
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Speed: